A few weeks ago I helped out in Evie's class. Her teacher has wanted to do something special for Thanksgiving and figured Evie and I could give some input there. Why yes! The class decided to do a feast, and I volunteered to make pumpkin pie--real, homemade pumpkin pie. I wanted them to know there was something more to life than the pies one buys at the supermarket.
Thankfully when I promised this I knew that it was possible to get canned pumpkin, though perhaps tricky and expensive. Friends who have lived here longer spoke of finding it at local Wal-Marts, or even finding whole pumpkins to make it that way. I hoped to go the canned pumpkin route. Unfortunately I didn't see canned pumpkin in the local markets, but thankfully our friends in Ajijic were able to go to one of the big ex-pat stores there and found three big cans for me. The price was worth it. I figured I'd do a big pie-baking bash next week before the kids had their feast and before we had a Thanksgiving dinner with church friends.
Yesterday when I picked up the kids I saw Ev's teacher. "I have the canned pumpkin!" I said. "Good!" she answered. "Our feast is tomorrow!"
I was sure I had heard wrong, but Ev assured me that they had parceled out different types of food to the kids in the class, and as I promised, I was assigned pumpkin pie.
This is not the first time something like this has happened at school. Jon's teachers are notorious for sending home sweet little notes asking for Jon to bring something in the next day. Things like "gel in a bag" and "napoles, cooked". Half the time I'm scratching my head as I try to figure out exactly what the item is, and then have to figure out how in the world we are supposed to find it before the next day. I thought at first that these last-minute requests were because Jon's teachers are fairly young and inexperienced, but apparently not. Clare hopped into the car one day after school and said, "I have to do a poster for tomorrow on a topic." A poster, as you know, requires poster board. I don't usually stock up on poster board. Thankfully, that particular time I had just bought three for another project I had wanted to do and hadn't gotten to yet. All this to say, I shouldn't have been surprised when I was asked to bring in pumpkin pie for two second grade classes (about 36 kids total) the following day.
There was no help for it. We needed evaporated milk, pie tins, and whipped topping of some sort. I knew evaporated milk was easy to come by, as were disposable pie tins. What I hadn't seen was any sort of whipped topping (Cool Whip is not a staple here). I also had faint hope of finding pre made pie crusts, so it looked like I was going to have to make those from scratch as well. I can make a decent pie crust, but they never look as nice as the prefab ones, and a bunch of second-graders weren't going to be concerned with the quality of the crust's flavor.
I hate driving out after school because that's when the traffic builds up, so the kids and I decided to walk down to the corner market, about a five minute walk. Sure enough, we found plenty of evaporated milk and pie tins, but no pre made crusts--sigh! As for whipped topping, I found something that said "whipped topping" in a freezer chest. The box looked like one that would have whipping cream in the States. My hope was that it would suffice. We trekked home and got to work on the pies. Clare put together the innards and Ev and Jon helped me with the crust. Unfortunately Ev didn't realize the water I'd put out for her had to be measured and she dumped it all in before we realized. My shortening was gone, and the crust was now unmanageable. I saved it--we'll see if I can make it work for a cobbler. My patience had about hit its limit, but thankfully Kraig arrived home just then and suggested hamburgers for dinner from a restaurant a stone's throw away. Wise man. He and the kids traipsed off for those while I made new pie crust...with pure butter.
The pies turned out beautifully, and the little bits of crust I tried melted in my mouth. I sent three in with Ev today and we kept one for us. I'm not about to give up all of that pie crust! The class had their feast this morning and the pies were a huge hit. The other teachers got to have some, too, so I think that makes the butter worth it. However I told Kraig last night that from now on I am going to plan for the unexpected. Because apparently that's what one must do here to survive.
How much canned pumpkin do you think I'm going to need?